Spain Park Softball
Spain Park wins in the Sidney Cooper Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, at South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus, Georgia.
The Spain Park High School softball team hosted an event near to the hearts of many when the Jags faced Mountain Brook on April 4.
The events surrounding the game aimed to bring awareness to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life.
Bracelets were sold at the game, and proceeds will go toward disease awareness and prevention efforts. The Alzheimer’s Association and the Danberry at Inverness assisted living and memory care departments were represented at the game.
The Jags wore purple accessories and purple jerseys in the game.
“This is good for community awareness and support for a disease that’s affecting so many people,” said Spain Park coach C.J. Hawkins, whose mother passed away from the effects of Alzheimer’s last spring. “There’s a lot of support out there, and we just want to be able to let the community understand what it’s about.”
Fresh off a runner-up finish at last spring’s state softball tournament, the Spain Park softball team has started the season strong.
The Jags had won just two regular season tournaments in Hawkins’ nine years as head coach, but the 2017 team has more than doubled that total in the season’s first two months.
Spain Park traveled to Columbus, Georgia, Feb. 24-25, for the Sidney Cooper Invitational hosted by Central-Phenix City High School. In pool play on the tournament’s first day, the Jags defeated Lee-Montgomery and Wetumpka to earn the top seed out of their pool.
The tournament format on Saturday was a single-elimination bracket, one that the Jags survived each step of the way, even narrowly at times. They trailed in a one-run win over Dale County to begin bracket play before notching a 12-5 win over Handley in the quarterfinals.
Hoover also participated in the tournament, as the crosstown schools matched up in the quarterfinals, a 6-1 win for Spain Park. The final game of the day was played between the Jags and James Clemens. Spain Park jumped on top early and held on for a 7-6 victory to win the Sidney Cooper Invitational, held in memory of the longtime Central-Phenix City coach. Spain Park’s junior varsity team finished second in the tournament.
The Jags followed up the win the following weekend with a triumph in the Jag Classic, Spain Park’s own annual tournament. The Jag Classic win was the program’s first in Hawkins’ tenure at Spain Park.
In pool play, Spain Park defeated Fayette County before taking down Helena, Brookwood, Leeds, Lincoln and Sparkman in bracket play. The 7-0 victory over Sparkman in the final was the first victory for the Jags in program history over the reigning Class 7A champions.
The Jags also participated in Oxford’s tournament March 17-18, and won four games over Hewitt-Trussville, Pleasant Valley, Cleburne County and Oxford to win another trophy. The tournament was the culmination of the Jags’ 22-game winning streak to begin the season.
“We have great senior leadership,” Hawkins said. “Our six seniors have all stepped up and contributed significantly, and we’ve got a lot of younger players that gel really well with the upperclassmen and have filled in nicely.”
Hawkins added the team has depth at every position and cautioned the season’s early results mean nothing come postseason play.
“It’s who’s healthy and hot in May,” she said.